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Saturday 3 December 2016

Dublins legend Vinnie Murphy: 'Mayo's tackling is always borderline'

Hill 16 hero Murphy says Dublin's reaction to Mayo's tackling pre-empted much of the spite that featured in last Sunday's draw

4 August 2001; Vinny Murphy, Dublin, celebrates at the end of the match. Kerry v Dublin, Bank of Ireland All-Ireland Football Championship Quarter Final, Semple Stadium, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Picture credit; Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
4 August 2001; Vinny Murphy, Dublin, celebrates at the end of the match. Kerry v Dublin, Bank of Ireland All-Ireland Football Championship Quarter Final, Semple Stadium, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Picture credit; Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
diarmuid connolly

QUITE why last Sunday's game hosted so much spite is hard to fully adjudge.

The familiarity of the teams, the desperately high stakes, bitter memories for both of losing at the same stage last year ... they're all prevailing forces.

"Generally speaking, I think Dublin got sucked into it," says Vinnie Murphy.

"They were over aggressive at times. But I think it was that Mayo set the agenda early on.

"And Dublin responded to it in kind. I think both teams were responsible for a lot of the stuff that went on."

Which is why there are two broad predictions for the tone of tomorrow's replay.

Either the teams will carry their grievances and duke it out again and the match descends into greater farce or both will on their best behaviour for fear of a forewarned and thusly forearmed Eddie Kinsella.

"The new referee will be on guard for the shenanigans going on off the ball," Murphy agrees.

"So I think it could be a little bit more free flowing than before."

Stymie

"I'm just mindful that Mayo have previous with this against Dublin. Their tackling is always borderline. They always tackling the man. They never tackle the ball."

"And they do that to try and disrupt Dublin's style. And it does stymie Dublin when that does happen.

"I think Dublin probably went out with a frame of mind that they were going to stand up to this and I think that caused a lot of the friction between the two sides as well."

Murphy of course, was one of the stars of Dublin's most memorable - if not their most recent - replay when they came back and took Kerry to a replay in Thurles.

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Then, Dublin celebrated as though they'd won and Kerry coyly repaired for a replay they almost inevitably went on to win a week later.

"When we were there, we were fully amateur. Whereas the players now are professional but in name," Murphy points out.

"So I'm sure there's nothing left to chance in terms of recovery and identifying areas they have to work on. So I don't think either team will get wrapped up with who finished well or who didn't.

"The stats are simply that Dublin were the better team for most of the game.

"Mayo were on top for the last 10 minutes. There were circumstances in terms of he black card in that Dublin were missing all their midfielders, so that contributed to it.

"Mayo," he continues, "because they were seven points down, sort of threw caution to the wind. And that can have an effect.

"The panic set in with Dublin and that could be because they had such an easy passage through Leinster. They haven't had that type of test so far and I think that could be a symptom of that.

"But having gone through that, I think they'll be a little bit better prepared on Saturday."

Whether any collateral damage exists from such a galling collapse is equally hard to decipher.

Those who referenced the 2006 meltdown to the same opposition have conveniently ignored that only two Dublin players, Stephen Cluxton and Alan Brogan, were involved that day and that this team have made a habit of seeing out those sort of tight games of late.

"They live in the now. They don't live with what happened last week or even yesterday or the last match or even the last training session," Murphy insists.

"It's another game. They'll look at what went wrong and what they might be able to tweak. I don't think it's going to effect either team, especially Dublin.

"They'll look at it and say 'we had it. What are the reasons we didn't finish it off?'

Lazy

"They'll go back in an look at areas earlier on in the game, especially some of the soft frees that were given against them that if they did differently, instead of going in three points up, they might have been four or five points up.

"So I think they'll look in minute detail at the tackling. Was it lazy tackling? Was it over-aggressive?

"They'll look at whether they think Mayo will press up on Cluxton's kick-outs. So the tactical battle is going to be interesting."

As a forward for whom defenders invested ample time in attempting to wind up, Murphy has sympathy for Diarmuid Connolly, whom he describes as "a genius".

"I think it's ridiculous that a fella can pull a fella to the ground and just get a yellow card," he argues.

"To me, the black card or the yellow card is fine when it's in the play. But this was off the ball. To me, if they're really going to look at the rules, if you're going to take a fella out of the play off the ball, it should be a straight red.

"Especially to pull him down. Whatever about checking his run or pulling his jersey, Ok yellow card or black card.

"But to me, they weren't near the play and he was obviously trying to stop Diarmuid getting into position. Diarmuid reacted how he did. There's no excuse for it and Diarmuid will know that.

"It's been a long, long time since he's reacted," Murphy points out.

"But I think he needs more protection from referees. Diarmuid being Diarmuid, he doesn't back down from a challenge.

"Sometimes when you get a player of his calibre, you have to accept that there is going to be the odd flaw in his makeup.

"But he is a genius. And he can't be perfect. I feel sorry for him reacting the way he did."

Coolest

Naturally then, most are expecting sparks but Murphy suspects that the team with the coolest complexion will win.

"To me, it's about who recovers best. It depends on the attitude with Dublin going on. They've had their shock.

"Last week, they were gone out of the game in the last 10 minutes but the difference is, they have a second bite of the cherry.

"There are still a few Dubs who didn't play up to scratch.

"I just think Dublin, because of their scoring threat, have a little bit more than Mayo. Mayo can change their tactics and do stuff like that.

"Whereas Dublin can change their tactics but if one or two of their players step up another notch, they can come through.

"But it's going to be very close," he concludes, "And very tactical."

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